During April—which is officially Earth Month and includes Earth Day celebrated on the 22nd—the rhetoric surrounding the state of our climate can swing dramatically. Extremists will suggest we have only years left to live on a habitable planet unless we embrace policies like net zero or the green new deal. But these policies come with significant consequences like high-cost energy or power grids that don’t reliably work. Further, it fails to recognize the facts of climate change and how to seriously build a clean energy future. Can you find the lie below?
A. Banning or severely limiting fossil fuels will not harm the economy or workers.
B. Even if the United States cuts emissions to zero, the world’s biggest emitters (China and India) have not cut back emissions.
C. Natural disasters and extreme weather have not become more prevalent due to climate change.
A. LIE. Banning or drastically limiting fossil fuels would damage the economy. Both workers and consumers would be harmed due to job loss and slow economic growth. Poor families would be the hardest hit. In addition to suffering the most job losses, those living at or under the poverty line will spend more on food and basic utilities. In fact, in the last decade, the percentage of income that the poor spend on electricity increased by one-third so now the bottom 20% of earners spend almost 10% of their take-home income on electricity. That’s more than seven times the amount that the top 20% pays for electricity.
Banning fossil fuels is a bad idea and comes with a host of serious consequences.
B. TRUE. The United States is already a world leader in emissions reduction, while China and India have steadily increased their carbon emissions.
In 2017 alone, China’s carbon emission increases completely wiped out U.S. reductions more than threefold. Numerous studies show that even if the United States achieves zero emissions, it will have a negligible effect on global emissions, future temperatures, or sea levels. While China is quick to sign onto international climate agreements, they are on track to build two new coal plants a week. Of note, Chinese coal plants don’t use modern pollution control technology—something U.S. coal plants have been using for decades.
C. TRUE. Climate alarmists often refer to natural disasters as evidence that climate change is getting worse. Yet the facts don’t support their alarmism.
Importantly, the death rate affiliated with natural disasters has fallen dramatically. Compared to the 1920s, Climate-related disasters kill 99% fewer people.
While sea levels have risen, they have been doing so for thousands of years. A 2017 study found no correlation between changes in sea levels and rising carbon dioxide levels. Additionally, despite concerns (or claims) that climate change is increasing extreme weather, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that there has been no increase in extreme weather in the past 30 years and that there is no strong basis for directly connecting natural disasters to human-caused climate change. In the United States, there has been no increase in the average frequency or severity of hurricanes for more than a century, and other disasters, such as forest fires, are connected to bad land management practices, not small increases in global temperatures.
This Earth Month, let’s move away from fear-based rhetoric and instead focus on advancing balanced ideas that will tangibly lead to a cleaner energy future. One where both people and the planet will thrive.
To learn more about better ways to protect the environment and address climate change, watch our Earth Day roundtable here.